A Kelowna man is honouring his late wife with a generous donation and a plea during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Walley Lightbody, a retired Okanagan lawyer, recently made a generous donation of $106,000 to the BC Cancer Foundation to fund breast cancer research and help breast cancer patients with medication.
He said he wanted to help others who were suffering from breast cancer and spare their families from the sadness of losing them to the disease. He added that he hopes the donation will help raise more awareness about the devastation that breast cancer can create.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, breast cancer accounted for 13 per cent of deaths in women while 87 per cent was caused by other types of cancer in 2020. Overall, screening and improvement in treatment have helped reduce the number of breast cancer-related deaths in Canada. However, it is still the most common cancer among women and is the second leading cause of death from cancer in Canadian women.
Lightbody lost his wife Marietta to breast cancer in 2016.
“Marietta was the most loving, caring, and thoughtful partner and mother that one could ever ask for,” he said.
“The cancer diagnosis was made only a matter of months before it took her life. In those months, it was devastating to watch the deterioration, especially the final days in the hospital and then at home with all the family.”
Lightbody had also previously lost his mother and sister to breast cancer. Altogether, he said that seeing them battle the disease and losing them encouraged him to donate to fund precision medication to breast cancer patients, especially those with rare and hard-to-treat sub-types.
Lightbody said he is hoping for a day where breast cancer is eradicated and is no longer a concern.
“Breast cancer took the life of my mother, my sister, and my wife. In my naive way, if we can eliminate the common cold virus and polio, surely we can do something better to eliminate breast cancer in our society,” he said.
Lightbody is now encouraging others to be aware of the symptoms, make regular screening a part of their lives, and donate to breast cancer research if they can.